Ask any (old) fan of hip hop to name their favorite years for the genre and you're likely to hear 1993 mentioned very quickly in the conversation. I'm no different, the years of 1992, 1993 and 1994 were, in many people's eyes, hip hop's Golden Age. A slew of classic albums were released by a wide variety of groups. In 1993 alone albums such as Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, Midnight Marauders, Enta da Stage, Organix and Here Come the Lords were all released.
There was another album that initially received much less fanfare released in 1993. An album that featured a title track that will go down as one of the most beloved, and underrated songs in hip hop history. I'm writing, of course, of '93 'til Infinity by the Souls of Mischief. Souls were a part of a larger group of MCs known as Hieroglyphics, lead by Del the Funkee Homosapien (who released another underrated album in No Need for Alarm in 1993) and hailed from East Oakland. Despite their Oakland roots, Souls (and Hiero as a whole) were unlike anything else in rap on the West Coast. Or really anything in hip hop before or after them. Not quite gangsta like NWA, not quite afrocentric like the Native Tongues. They were an eclectic group of young guys (Very young. Some members were just 18 at the time of the albums release) who loved emceeing and the emerging hip hop culture in the Bay Area and came together to release a song, and album, that would become an unlikely classic.
If you've never heard '93 'Til Infinity, I encourage you to listen.
To this day, I still get goosebumps when I hear the first notes of this song. It changed my life. No, really. Up to this point I had only listened to rap from New York and Los Angeles (though the release of Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik in 1994 would soon thrust Atlanta's hip hop into my ears and life). I had never really listened to so called "underground hip hop" prior to this. I probably didn't know it existed. I had heard a few songs by Del (MIstadobalina and Catch a Bad One come to mind) and liked them but nothing like this. This album and my desire to hear more acts in hip hop like this changed everything. This song and the accompanying album (which is a great listen from start to finish for me to this day) exposed me to all types of MCs and groups I'd never heard of and dramatically affected my tastes for years to come.
Somehow, I had never really thought about all this before a few weeks ago. I'd also not thought about how long ago this album was released until then either. Not until I found out that Souls of Mischief would be going on the 20th Anniversary of the '93 'Til Infinity tour this summer. After I stopped feeling old as hell, I looked up tour dates and discovered that said tour would be stopping in Orlando at my favorite live music venue, The Social. That stop is tonight. I'm sure I don't need to tell you where I'll be later.